We all know two things when it comes to babies: their skin is sensitive, and diaper rash is a common problem for them. Desitin is a brand of medication that is aimed at treating diaper rash, but it is packed with chemicals that may just be too much for the backside of our little bundles of joy. There is also the risk of serious side effects associated with use of Desitin, ranging from skin irritation to bleeding and peeling.
We only want the treatments for diaper rash to be both effective and safe. Fortunately there are natural alternatives to Desitin that will get the job done without gambling on the chance of side effects with each use. Also, these alternatives not only remedy diaper rash and other similar skin conditions, they also improve the skin’s health, making it more smooth and resistant to future problems. There are also some things that you can do while using these alternatives to further minimize the risk of diaper rash.
Seek first the advice of your pediatrician to determine which alternative is the best for your baby, and to avoid possible complications:
1. Aloe Vera: Packed with vitamin E and anti-inflammatory B-sitosterol, the gel found inside the leaves of the aloe vera plant has a multitude of cosmetic and medicinal uses that work wonders for the skin. From maintaining the skin’s levels of moisture, to treating and preventing irritation, aloe vera gel is gentle enough for all skin types. Yes, including your baby’s delicate backside. Aloe vera gel can be easily purchased in many health stores, just make sure that they are 100% organic and not mixed with any chemicals. Also, you can opt to just grow the herb in your garden, or buy aloe vera leaves and harvest the gel yourself. Unfortunately, there are very rare cases of babies who develop allergies to aloe vera gel that exacerbates diaper rash, so discontinue the use of this alternative if you notice that the rash is not being alleviated. There are a few ways on how to use the gel for diaper rash:
- Directly apply the gel and let it dry before every diaper change. As it is mostly composed of water, the gel fights off inflammation and pain while letting the skin breathe easily.
- Mix a half cup of the herb’s gel (liquefied with a blender), two cups of water (boiled then cooled down to room temperature), and two tablespoons of baby oil. Store the concoction in a spray bottle, spritz a moist piece of cloth or paper sheet with it, then wipe on the affected area. Thanks to the skin’s quick absorption of aloe vera, swelling and redness should disappear after a few uses of this homemade baby wipes. For severe cases of diaper rash, include zinc oxide to the mix as it will help lock in moisture to prevent the rash from becoming worse.
2. Breast Milk: Who would’ve thought that the milk produced by mothers themselves is one of the most effective ways to treat diaper rash? A few drops of the milk rubbed on the affected areas is enough to remedy the problem. It can also relieve cracked nipples after breastfeeding, and eye infections. Its efficacy in treating diaper rash was further proven by a study in 2013 that was published in the Pediatric Dermatology journal wherein children with diaper rash were treated with breast milk, while the others were given over the counter hydrocortisone ointment, and both groups were relived of diaper rash on the seventh day of the trial.
3. Coconut Oil: Primarily used as a healthy cooking oil, coconut oil can also be used topically for the skin. Here are some of its beneficial ingredients:
- Anti-microbial capric, lauric, and caprylic fatty acids that shield the skin from the risk of infections.
- Vitamin E, being an antioxidant, wards off harmful free radicals that negatively affect the skin.
- Proteins that work on rejuvenating the skin, maintaining its overall health, and promoting enhanced cell and tissue repair.
When you’re out looking for coconut oil, always choose the “virgin” variant as it is the least refined type of this oil. Virgin coconut oils are extracted from raw coconut and packed without any chemicals mixed with it, thus giving the most health benefits. For diaper rash, you can simply apply the coconut oil using your fingers then letting it dry prior to putting a new diaper on your baby. Aside from direct use, the coconut oil can be combined with other ingredients to form organic diaper creams:
- Boil up to eight tablespoons of coconut oil until it melts. Add one tablespoon of calendula and chamomile and turn the heat down to medium until the oil becomes yellow colored. Strain out the flowers then add one teaspoon of powdered arrowroot or zinc oxide, and four tablespoons of shea butter. Turn the mix into a creamy consistency using a food processor then transfer it to a jar for future use.
- You can substitute vegetable glycerin (two tablespoons) and beeswax (one tablespoon) to the flowers on the above method. For this mix, use only eight tablespoons of shea butter and four tablespoons of coconut oil.
- Put four tablespoons of coconut oil in a glass jar. On a saucepan, put two inches of water and heat it on a stove. Once it boils, put the glass jar on it and wait until the coconut oil has melted. Remove the jar and let it cool down. Afterwards pour in a couple drops of lavender essential oil, stir the mix, and then transfer it to a new container. Wait for a couple of hours to give the mix some time to adjust to a cooler temperature before applying it to your baby.
4. Oatmeal: A breakfast staple with many benefits for your health when eaten, oatmeal is also good for your baby’s skin thanks to its high saponin and protein contents. Oatmeal is mixed with water in a small bowl until it becomes pasty in consistency, which is then applied to the areas affected by diaper rash. Let it sit for up to 20 minutes before washing it off. To maximize oatmeal’s skin soothing properties, add a tablespoon to a warm tub of water and bathe your baby in it for 15 minutes. Do these procedures on a daily basis until the rash is finally gone.
5. Olive Oil: Similar to coconut oil, olive oil is a healthy addition to meals and a great remedy for skin conditions as well. Its extra virgin classification ensures that no chemicals are used during its extraction and processing, making it a very high quality oil that is incredibly beneficial to your health. For diaper rash, simply dilute two tablespoons of the oil in one teaspoon of warm water, stir until it becomes creamy, and then apply to your baby’s backside. If you use this mix for other purposes like relieving chapped lips and skin, make sure that you use the oil that is stored in a different container to avoid cross contamination.
6. Plantain: These are close relatives of your common banana fruit, only a bit taller, thicker skinned, and showing a bright green hue that turns black or yellow when overripe. Plantains are considered as vegetables in Asian, African, and Central American diets, where they are cooked and not eaten raw due to their large amounts of starch. Plantains are loaded with vitamins A, C, and B6, dietary fiber, and minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. For topical applications, plantain has anti-inflammatory iridoids, and anti-microbial aglycones and aucubigenins. It is used to treat bee stings, bug bites, eczema, psoriasis, and diaper rash, earning it the moniker “band aid plant”. Fresh leaves of plantain can be crushed and applied directly to the baby’s affected skin, same goes for organic plantain oil. For a homemade salve, follow these steps:
- Chop or grind a cup of fresh plantain leaves, place in a jar, then cover them with one half cup of either melted coconut oil or olive oil. Store it in a place with room temperature and let it sit for up to six weeks. After the wait, strain out the oil using a cheesecloth or fine mesh into a different container. Melt a tablespoon of beeswax then add the plantain oil to it then stir thoroughly. You can add an essential oil to this mix, but that is just optional. Transfer the concoction into a clean container and use it whenever diaper rash or other skin complications strike.
7. Shea Butter: A potent anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory with rich amounts of vitamin A and vitamin E. Used for many years as a cosmetic product, and in some places for cooking, shea butter works well in relieving diaper rash and other skin conditions. When applied, it boosts circulation, enhances regeneration of cells, and accelerates the healing of rashes. To use this for your baby, wash the backside first and dry before rubbing it with shea butter. Let it sit for a couple of minutes before putting on a diaper. Raw and unrefined kinds of shea butter are the best for your baby’s skin as it is completely pure without any trace of chemicals.
8. Tea Tree Oil: A yellow or colorless essential oil that should not be taken orally as it is toxic, but safe when used externally. It has anti-microbial properties that can help with many dermatological conditions. For diaper rash, mix five drops of the oil with up to two tablespoons coconut oil then rub it on the affected area. Never use this oil as is, always dilute it as failure to do so will burn the skin.
9. Tips: Aside from using natural alternatives, there are some things you can do to protect your baby from diaper rash:
- As diaper rash is because of irritation wrought by feces and urine, not to mention the effects of wiping on the baby’s sensitive backside, changing diapers frequently at the first sign of soiling is a good way to avoid irritation. Another way is to let your baby’s backside be exposed to fresh air by not covering it with diapers, giving the skin ample time to breathe and recover.
- Every time you change your baby’s diaper, always wash the bottom first with warm water. Also, instead of rubbing or scrubbing the skin dry, gently pat it. Use only mild soaps in washing, and a washcloth or cotton balls for cleaning. Avoid wipes that have fragrances or alcohol.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after changing the baby’s diaper to avoid the risk of spreading bacteria to your baby’s other parts of the body, to the other kids, or to yourself.
- When washing cloth diapers, use hot water with bleach and some mild detergent to eliminate germs. Vinegar can also be used to ensure that the diaper has no odors and soap residue. Do not use dryer sheets and fabric softeners to avoid the risk of irritating the baby’s sensitive skin.